horror movie

Wicked Wednesday: My Mom’s a Werewolf (1989)

The 80s must have been a weird time. And I mean that in the most affectionate of ways. Sure the music and fashions were eccentric (and amazing), but it’s never more plainly clear how distinct the 80s were than through its movies.

Movies like My Mom’s a Werewolf.

This 1989 comedy horror is pretty much a check list of 80s cliche must-haves:

  • Eccentric best friend
  • Beautiful mother with lazy father
  • Party scene with bizarre happenings montage
  • Monkey suit werewolf costumes
  • Cheap pop songs with bizarre, yet catchy lyrics
  • Needless cover of classic song (though this will always be Hollywood’s eternal vice)
  • A cute, hairy dog

My Mom’s a Werewolf is essnetially a film that has everything written right on the tin. Leslie Shaber is an underappreciated woman. Her daughter doesn’t bother, and her husband prefers football games with the boys over spending time with her.

One day, while shopping for a flea collar, Leslie meets a mysterious shop owner. He helps her get her stolen bag back and immediately catches her attention. He follows her to the restaurant where she goes for dinner, wooing her despite her generally sensible behaviour.

But while Leslie is falling for a man named “Harry Thropen” (to be fair, played by the ever-gorgeous John Saxon), she’s spotted by her daughter, Jennifer.

Jennifer leaves the restaurant with her friend Stacey. The two follow Leslie as she returns to Harry’s store. They catch them in the bedroom together, but her forced to leave by a policeman.

As Harry and Leslie become aquainted, Harry bites Leslie’s toe. She immediately comes to her senses and leaves. But Jennifer is already suspicious of her mother’s infidenlity. Though she will have a lot more to be concerned about.

After being bitten, Leslie’s sex drive returns, she begins to grow long canines, and she has continuous dreams about Harry.

At Jennifer’s Halloween party, she finally realises that there’s something not quite right with Mom. While she asks Stacey (who’s obsessed with everything monsters) for help, her friend doesn’t offer any. So Jennifer goes to see a local fortune teller.

The fortune teller warns that Leslie can return to her werewolf form at any time. So Stacey and Jennifer begin following Leslie everywhere. Leslie, who know knows she’s destined to be Harry’s hairy wife, becomes a werewolf again and hides out in her house.

Harry arrives to take his bride, but thankfully the girls are there to help Leslie. Stacey manages to take down Harry by poking him with a silver fork. The policemen, who had arrived during the scuffle, see Leslie’s transformation as she turns from a werewolf back into a woman.

The Shabers become famous in their town. And Jennifer’s fortune teller friend begins to rake it in after her talents are revealed.

And that’s seemingly it. That is until Stacey learns more about how a curse can pass on after a werewolf is killed…

My Mom’s a Werewolf is pretty daft. It’s bizzare. It’s also pretty amusing.

This is one of the many films to follow in the wake of the success of Teen Wolf. But it doesn’t really become as iconic. It’s pretty one note, to be honest. Once the mother-is-a-werewolf gag is played, it’s pretty much the only thing that happens throughout.

If anything, this is a nice (if forgettable) piece of 80s schlock. Might be fun for some of the younger ones in the family.

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Wicked Wednesday: Bigfoot: The Lost Coast Tapes (2012)

As the world is seemingly getting smaller, the mysteries of the world seem a bit sillier. And yet, so many of us love the unknown.

This lingering obsession is seen in shows like Ancient Aliens. But increasingly, people are turning to true crime, the unknown more about what we know: ourselves.

In the found-footage movie Bigfoot: The Lost Coast Tapes, a group of contemporary filmmakers head to Northern California where they plan on speaking to a man who claims to have found the body of a Sasquatch. Their leader, the unlikable Sean, believes that their new documentary will be network gold.

When the group arrive, they struggle to find the home of the man they seek. They find a path, but their van gets stuck in the mud. They eventually come face-to-face with Mr Drybeck (played by Frank Ashmore, who absolutely steals the show). The eccentric man takes the group to his cabin in the woods, which is only powered by a generator.

Some of the filmmakers are more excited than others. On one end of the spectrum is sound buy Kevin, who is as meek as a mouse and believes everything Drybeck tells them. Robin, the producer, is a bit more relaxed. She ‘greets the forest people’ with her shaman skills (or something).

That first night, things immediately go south. Something attacks the group from outside the cabin – much to Sea’s delight. And in the morning, Drybeck drives off in his jeep without the filmmakers. In a panic, Kevin goes off on his own to retrieve the van while wearing a body cam.

The remaining group look at the damage done to the cabin and find large scratch marks and urine on the walls. They later find footprints and a nest. Robin is attacked by an unseen something, but is saved by Drybeck, who has returned.

The attack injures Robin pretty severely, hindering her ability to walk. Sean and cameraman Darryl insist on getting her to a hospital, but when they try to leave, they find every road block by large trees.

Sean agrees to stay at the cabin. Drybeck promises to take the remaining men with him to a sea cave to look at the Sasquatch body he’d found. That leaves Robin all alone.

It’s unsurprising when everything goes south from there. But is it the Sasquatch that are really to blame? Or are they really trying to protect people from the spirit world? Since this is found-footage, you don’t really get a lick of an answer.

So…The Lost Coast Tapes isn’t…great. Though I guess it’s as much as you can hope for from a bigfoot movie. Awkwardly acted, but stronger at other points. Confusing camera use (as per usual with the lesser of this genre). Sometimes entertaining. And surprisingly, very few of those scenes where it’s just the shake-y cam pointed at the ground.

But is there really room in our modern world for this type of found-footage film anymore? I suppose there’s a small slice of the audience who care. We make found-footage movies to be convinced by what’s on (or not on) screen. Going into movies like this is strange because we’re already certain that these creatures don’t exist.

….right?

Scares are very difficult to come by here. And I think that’s more the subject’s fault than anything.

Though, if there is a good big foot movie. Please send it my way.

Wicked Wednesday: The Umbrella Factory (2013)

Horror stories have been around for thousands of years. The original Grimms’ Fairy Tales can be shocking and horrifying. The Bible has stories of ghosts and floating hands.

We love to be scared and always have been. Which is why The Umbrella Factory‘s simple storytelling is so effective.

One rainy night, three brothers are visited by a traveller. The cold, wet man has no money to offer the brothers in exchange for their hospitality. But he does have a talisman from India that grants wishes.

The eldest brother, the most unkind, asks for a large sum of money. The next day, the brothers go to the umbrella factory they work. Tragedy strikes when the youngest of them dies. The factory manager offers them money on behalf of the youngest brother.

That night, the second brother wishes that the youngest brother was still alive. The wish is granted, and the mutilated brother returns home. Horrified, the eldest brother wishes that none of the events had ever happened.

So again. One rainy night, three brothers are visited by a traveller.

This is a simple story, inspired by “The Monkey’s Paw” by WW Jacobs. It’s a story that many people are familiar with. And even if they’re not, it’s the ages-old moral: be careful what you wish for.

But the most effective part about The Umbrella Factory is the interesting Victorian-inspired animation. It’s use of black and white with splashes of red give this potentially child-ish story a gruesome twist. For less than four minutes, this short horror film gives you plenty of eye candy to look at.

Wicked Wednesday: Summer horror movie recommendations

In the summertime when the weather is hot
You can stretch right up and touch the sky

Ah. The hot and dusty days of summer. When smelly people are everywhere, and we all feel ashamed for not losing a bit more weight before squeezing back into those old shorts.

I’m not a fan of summer. I think that’s what I get extra-excited about Halloween early every year (August the 1st, thank you very much). That being said, I love summer horror movies. Give me summer camps, dying shrubbery and sweaty people running from things. It’s a very satisying asthetic.

So I’ve gathered up a few of my favourites. There’s certainly a lot missing here…and there’s a lot of “stretches” involved. But my blog, my rules.

1. The Funhouse (1981)

This little Tobe Hooper number exists in god knows what time of the year. Sometimes it feels like autumn, sometimes summer. I think we can narrow it down to Indian summer at best.

The Funhouse follows a group of teenagers who go to a seedy carnival in town. When they decide to spend the night in the funhouse, they soon find themselves being stalked and killed by the carnival workers.

I always recommend this movie to people delving deeper into slashers, as it’s a rare gem in the genre: something you can watch all the way through without getting bored. But I love the visuals as well. It reminds me of staying at the state fair late into the night, bewildered by all the strangess around me.

2. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)

This is, for me, the ultimate summer classic. Another one of Hooper’s films, Texas Chainsaw Massacre really needs no introduction. It’s truly a masterpiece.

The heat. The sweatiness… It imagery just reeks of summer. It also has a lot of rotting flesh, so I imagine it reeked of that too. We may all have seen it half-a-million times, but who’s to say we can watch it half-a-million more?

3. I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997)

Right. So this is not my favourite Lois Duncan adaptation by a long shot. This movie actually upset Duncan when she saw it, as the violence reminded her of her own daughter’s tragic murder. It was stripped of its story and turned into a straight-forward slasher film (no hook-handed fisherman in the original).

But we couldn’t talk about summer horror without the one where it’s literally in the title. While I’m being a bit harsh on it, this is actually entertaining pop-corn fair. Sarah Michelle Gellar is an absolute gem in this one, so really just watch for her performance.

“I don’t think we’re that powerful, Julie. You’re giving us way too much credit.”

4. Spider Baby (1967)

This Jack Hill probably isn’t the film that immediately comes to most people’s minds when it comes to summer horror. But hear me out. Spider Baby is one of the brightest, sunniest horror movies I’ve ever seen.

When a couple go to see a family mansion, they find a group of mentally-regressing children in the home. The house is always being watched by people shading their eyes. That’s probably due to the fact that it was mostly shot in August and September in sunny California.

But there’s something very brave about a bright horror movie. It doesn’t need to always hide behind shadows in order to be unnerving. Yes eventually we spiral into the darkness of both the night and the family, but I think that makes the contrast all the more powerful.

5. Gatti rossi in un labirinto di vetro aka Eyeball (1975)

Some movies feel more like a season due to their settings. Is it in Salem? It’s perfect to watch in autumn. Is it Norwegian? Put it on in winter! So when this Italian horror gem puts ‘Americans’ on a tour bus in sunny Spain? It’s a summer movie to me, kids.

Umberto Lenzi’s Eyeball is one of my favourite gialli. It’s really bizarre (I mean really). It has a banging theme tune. And there’s that one grinning guy with the bag of oranges. Watching Eyeball for the first time was an absolute blast, and it’s been a pleasure to keep re-watching it ever since.

If this doesn’t get you in the travelling-for-summer mood, then I really don’t know what will.

6. Slumber Party Massacer II (1987)

What’s that? Another chance to plug my favourite horror movie sequel? Well, I’ll take that opportunity. Again.

This (literally) dreamy movie mostly takes place during the school year, but it still has some definite end-of-the-school-year vibes. The girls walk around in shades, sing Paisley Underground songs and hang out in unfinished houses. They also get killed by a drill/guitar-wielding maniac. Really just usual plans that we all pencil into our summer schedules.

I think because I associate this movie with the word “fun” so much, I immediately relate it to summer. Because that’s ultimately why most of these movies are here: what’s really the point of summer but to enjoy yourself?

7. The Summer of 84 (2018)

There are many coming-of-age classics: Stand by MeGoonies, and new-comers like Stranger Things. They’re all rich with nostalgia. We’re a nostalgic type of species.

Which is why Summer of 84 is great. It reminds you why you loved the classics of the 80s. It has a plot line that’s well-worn, but well-loved: the person next door isn’t who you think they are. Think of The People Under the Stairs and The Burbs.

Only this book has an added punch to the gut with it’s jaw-dropping ending. It’s the end of both summer, and of naive innocence.


So what is your favourite horror movie to watch in the summer? I bet it’s Friday the 13th. It is, isn’t it?

Wicked Wednesday: Within (2016)

I rarely read reviews before I watch movies for this blog. I didn’t make an exception for Within, but I really wish I had. This was truly one of the more confounding films I’ve watched in a long, long time.

At the surface, this is very the set-up for typical haunted house trope fest. A family move into a new home in suburbia. There’s the oblivious dad, the hot new mom, and the irrtated “bad girl” daughter. They immediately begin noticing strange things in the house, particularly the daughter Hannah. And of course they eventually discover that a family died there by murder-suicide. They very much are like the new family: two parents and a daughter.

Hannah is sentenced by her father, John, to cleaning out the pervious family’s things out of their garage. She begins to unpack their lives and learn more things about them. She learns from a neighbour that the previous family had simply disappeared.

Meanwhile, she’s also battling creep ‘neighbour’ Ray, a locksmith. He offers to change the locks on the family’s house, but instantly creeps out mother Melanie too much.

Ray is eventually outseted as a squater in the next-door house. As revenge, he perves on Hannah (who is VERY much underage). But before he can do anything, Ray is killed off by a ghoul-ish like boy. Imagine the cavemen from those old Geico commercials.

While Hannah’s boyfriend visits, he studies the photos of murdered family. In one of the family outside the house, he notices unusual: a boy in one of the windows. As he’s being killed off, Hannah goes back to the family’s things to do more research. She eventually learns that the first family had a son.

This son had agoraphobia. So obviously, he’s crazy and LIVES IN THE CRAWL SPACE OF THE WALLS. The family attempt to take on the man, and the police eventually shoot someone. Of course it isn’t the agoraphobic caveman, but one of his prisoners.

He then gleefully picks off all the family members. Even Hannah, who is also creeped on repeatedly.

I mean, makes sense to me. Agoraphobia = crazy people who live in walls. Crazy people who look like drowned, drooling ghouls!

Horror movies aren’t always the most…represntitve of mental illness. But this is not a 1970s shocker. This was made in 2016. But it’s not its idiotic grip on mental health that’s the most eye-roll inducing about htis movie.

This is a story you’ve seen a million times. And it hasn’t been done well here. There’s no suspense. It’s by-the-numbers, pervy and just…boring. What’s the point of creating something when you refuse to bring anything new to the table?

But I would have known all of this if I would have just checked IMDB first. Not sure if that’s a lesson to really take away. Though I’m not really sure I can stomach another one of these.

Wicked Wednesday: Witchcraft (1988)

When I saw that many of the films from the Witchcraft series had been added to Amazon Prime, I thought, “Finally. This is my moment.”

I had been wanting to watch this series for ages. Or, at least I thought I did. It took me until about only 10 minutes into this movie to realise that I was confusing Witchcraft with Witchboard. You know, I movie I already watched.

But despite being a complete idiot, I rather enjoyed Witchboard for what it was. Which is simply a mash up of Rosemary’s Baby and Tommy Wiseau’s acting skill. Throw in a dash of witchcraft Satanism and you’re all set to go!

Grace Churchill (a Polish immigrant, which is obvious from her name) gives birth to a baby boy, seemingly entering him into a world of bliss. Grace and her husband, John, move in with John’s mother in order for Grace to get help with the baby.

When Grace arrives at her mother-in-law Elizabeth’s house, she increasingly has visions like she had during her labor. She often sees images of a couple being burned at the stake for being witches. She also begins to feel unwell, and is given tea made by Elizabeth.

But Grace is a plucky Pole, and continues on with her normal life. At her post-baby-having baby shower, she shows her friend Linda around the house. They go to an area of the house that’s off limits to Grace, and they’re stopped by Elizabeth’s butler, Ellsworth.

The two women go back downstairs where they greet Grace’s priest. He turns to the baby, William, and sees visions of flames around the baby’s cot. He flees to the toilet where he’s sick. He then sees the vision again in a mirror before fleeing the home.

One day after the party, Grace manages to sneak into the “off limits” part of the home. She finds a series of unfinished rooms, including one with a large mirror hanging on the wall. When she looks into the mirror, she sees a vision of the priest hanging himself.

Later, the event happens in reality. The priest hangs himself outside of Grace’s house, his face disfigured.

Grace takes Linda to the off-limits room and shows her the room. But Linda isn’t convinced of her friend’s claims, believing that Grace is only upset about the lost of her priest.

Grace begins to become more unsettled living in her mother-in-law’s home. She pleads with John to let her leave, and he eventually admits that their home burnt down nearly a week ago. Upset with her husband, Grace tries to leave the home with baby William to see the ruined home. But Elizabeth convinces Grace to leave William behind.

When Grace reaches her house, she see that it has been ruined by a fire. But when she speaks to an older woman outside the home, she learns that the house had only burnt down the day before.

Grace returns to Elizabeth’s home and finds that it’s empty. When she goes into the off-limits room, she has more visions of the witches. She faints from her visions and wakes again with bandages around her wrists.

Linda visits Grace, and tries to sooth her friend, whom she believes has tried to take her own life. Linda agrees to stay the night and keep Grace company. In the night, Grace dreams that Linda is missing and she instead finds a chest of items in a room.

In the morning, Grace discovers that she’s holding onto the cross she grabbed in her dream. The same cross the priest gave her, and the same cross supposedly sitting at Linda’s home.

The two women explore more of the off-limits part of the home. When they split up, Linda’s life is swiftly ended, leaving Grace all alone. She’s swiftly knocked out and wakes up to find herself tied up.

Grace soon discovers that her husband and mother-in-law are the ones responsible. They tell her that they are reincarnated witches, waiting for their son to be born into the world again. With the help of the butler, the witches are killed off.

But while that’s the ending, I feel like I’m left with more questions than I have answers for. Why did the butler work for Elizabeth if he planned on killing her anyway? Is Grace a witch? How can she do all of these magical things? Or is it just Elizabeth and John being massive witchy jerks? Also, can I dress like Linda and get away with it in 2019?

Linda is my kindred spirit. Shame she wasn’t the Final Girl.

The acting and dialogue in Witchcraft is at least at a level of enjoyably bad. If you can get through the long, meandering scenes, it’s worth a watch. Though I’m not quite sure if I can stomach 15 sequels. It’s kind of difficult to wrap my mind around how this movie spawned so many sequels. But I suppose there could be worse things in this world.

So it was a mistake to watch Witchcraft, but it was certainly a happy mistake.

Wicked Wednesday: The Monster Club (1981)

If I had to sum up The Monster Club in one word, it’d be “goofy”. It’s simultaneously serious and silly, creating a real mix of emotions and feel throughout the entire movie.

And when it’s an anthology, that’s to be expected to a certain extent.

This 1981 British film was based on the work of author Ronald Chetwynd-Hayes. He’s injected into his own story by becoming one of the main characters in the framing story. Chetwynd-Hayes (played by John Carradine) bumps into a stranger one night, and becomes a midnight snack for a vampire.

But the vampire (Vincent Price) doesn’t finish the author off, but rather invites him to the Monster Club: a swingin’ club that, well, has monsters in it. The author is slightly alarmed, but is met with constant hospitality. The two hunker down at a table and the vampire, Eramus, begins to tell three stories – each about a different monster.

The first, “The Shadmock” follows a poor and greedy couple as they seek ways to make money. The woman, Angela, answers an ad in the newspaper from a man looking for someone to catalogue his antiques. When Angela first visits, she’s frightened away by the man’s face, but her boyfriend insists she return.

Angela reluctantly returns and takes the job working for Raven. She slowly learns about all his wealth, and the pair become closer. Raven eventually proposes to Angela. Her boyfriend again encourages her to follow through with it for the sake of money. Angela tells Raven that she accepts his proposal, and he suggests that they have a masquerade to celebrate.

At the ball, Angela is discovered trying to rob Raven. The man, now revealed to be a “Shadmock”, releases a high-pitched whistle. The smouldering corpse of Angela returns home, much to the terror of her boyfriend.

In “The Vampires”, the second tale of the night, a young boy struggles through life being bullied and slightly neglected. His father sleeps all day, and he rarely spends any time with the boy. But one day, when the boy is downtrodden, his mother tells him that his father is a count.

The boy goes to school and brags to his bullies. While he’s pushed down again, he’s rescued by a black-clad man (Donald Pleasence). He talk to the man, who begins to ask more questions about the boy’s father.

Eventually, the boy discovers that his father is a vampire. But before he can do anything about it, the black-clad man arrives with his crew. He reveals that they are vampire hunters, and then promptly stakes the father in the heart. But before the vampire can die, he bites the vampire hunter, turning him as well.

The other vampire hunters kill their leader and flee the house. It’s then revealed that the father vampire had been wearing a stake-proof vest all along.

The third story follows more strange monsters, “The Ghouls”. While just as deadly, the Ghouls appear more human than the Shadmock and keep more regular hours than a Vampire.

A film director heads to a small village while scouting for movie locations. When he arrives, he finds that the locals are both creepy and unhelpful. He tries to leave the the village, but discovers that his car has been tampered with. The locals then force him into a room in the inn on an upper level.

The director then meets a young girl, who explains that she is only half-human, unlike the others in the village. Everyone else there is a ghoul and likes to feast on human flesh. The girl also explains that the ghouls cannot go on holy ground. She then helps the director escape the inn and head into the village church.

There, the director learns the truth about the village’s history. It was overrun with ghouls who mated with humans (presumably dead ones). The girl arrives at the church, and they both try to escape to the outside world together.

The girl eventually dies, but the director flees to the motorway and waves down police officer. The officer offers to give him a ride, but the director soon finds himself back in the village. There to be a snack for the ghouls’ leaders.

After Eramus’s stories, he invites the author to become an honorary member of the Monster Club. While the author is resistant, Eramus explains that the most terrifying monster of all is the human.

The Monster Party is certainly an odd one. I couldn’t get through the first twenty minutes last week without turning it off. It’s tone is inconsistent, and it’s distracting.

There are some scenes in the club with bands playing. But even that doesn’t quite hit either the “this is excellent” or “this is so bad it’s good” marks.

If the film had committed to which tone it wanted, it might have been more successful. But overall, it’s just right in the middle.